What do you think makes a great client?

Liz Dunning

‘What makes a GREAT design client? Only one word could define it – bravery. As designers we are often misguided enough to think it is how we sell a design that makes the difference. No, the difference is having a brave client who has to do the much harder job of persuading his or her colleagues, bosses and in some cases their whole organisation to push the envelope.’

Liz Dunning, partner, Dunning Penney Jones

Simon Manchipp

‘It’s simple to be a good client. Hire us based on work we’ve done that you like. Trust us with a clear brief. Give us enough time. Enough budget. Keep working with us because you like us. Pay on time. And repeat. Thing is. That’s good, professional, but not particularly memorable.  The memorable client takes creative thinking to another level as they elevate you to a position of trust where you can over-deliver making a service, organisation or product reach entirely new standards. Also, this is meant to be a fun business. So a good jolly goes a long way to better connect the team. Be that a drink after a big meeting or dinner to mark a significant point in the project. We always try to build these into a project. But of course it’s even better if the client chooses to instigate as it takes you to unfamiliar places. Thanks to more fun clients we’ve had helicopters and horses hired. Boats chartered. Dinners in Middle Eastern deserts and breakfast in Brussels. Best of all was probably a mountain climb in Georgia where a client arranged for a private performance of Hamlet to be put on. In Russian. In mime. In the name of the creative work we had been working on for a year. That was a memorable client.’

Simon Manchipp, co-founder, SomeOne

John Scarrott

‘Having canvassed the views of some of DBA members, a great design client is one that creates a trusted and professional partnership with their consultancy. They are open and honest in their communication; ready and willing to listen. They have an ambitious vision for the future, energy and a sense of excitement. Lastly, they need to believe in the power of great design.’

John Scarrott, membership director, Design Business Association

Julie Oxberry

‘I could say “great design clients are clients that love great design”, but it’s not that simple. Great design clients are also collaborative clients. Responsiveness and enthusiasm make all the difference, because feedback that’s thought-through and communicated clearly will save time, money and energy. But my favourite kind of clients? Those that want to make a real change to their industry – and that want to forge strong new relationships with their customers.’

Julie Oxberry, managing director, Household

Nik Roope

‘Clients who are able to collaborate meaningfully but still give the space required to “do your stuff” from time to time. A more enjoyable relationship that is also a lot more productive.’

Nicolas Roope, co-founder, Poke

Emily Penny

‘By far the most important characteristic of any client is excitement about design and its potential. Design is a partnership and a journey, and we need lots of positive energy to get to a really great destination together. Excitement means believing in the process, taking care to choose the right design team, and having trust in their expertise to deliver real value. It involves investment, sometimes risk-taking, and being open to shifts in perspective. Design is, after all, about discovery and invention. It’s well worth getting excited about.’

Emily Penny, Co-founder, Colourful Design Strategy

Sebastian Bergne

‘A great design client is one who commissions you because of what you will do for them. Not for what you have done for others.’

Sebastian Bergne, founder, Sebastian Bergne

Lizzie Mary Cullen

‘A client who challenges you is always wonderful. I worked with a client recently who really pushed me, and the end product was a fabulous piece of work.  However, there’s a fine line between pushing you and micro managing you. I once worked with a client who needed me to answer every text message within two minutes. During one text exchange I had gone to the loo and had not answered one of their texts in more than nine minutes. I came out of the bog with a string of panicky messages. I ended up saying “Sorry. I was busy doing a massive shit.”’

Lizzie Mary Cullen, designer and illustrator

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